Friday, January 3, 2014

Makin' Changes

Well the last 6 months have certainly been a trip, and living on the Lower East Side has been total fulfillment of my New York fantasies, view of the Empire State Building and all.

However, I didn't come here to pretend to be a socialite, and if I'm actually going to dig my feet in and make it work financially, I need to start being a little more realistic about cost of livnig.

My friend Caroline and I are looking at apartments in Astoria, Queens, tomorrow. To save money, I let Bernadette keep my wonderful LES apartment for good, and I nabbed a sublet in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, for the month.

There's a man next door who sells Pan-African Erotic paintings, and yells aggressively at passers-by, "get yourself over here and buy a fucking painting!" There's sometimes drumming coming from inside, and body guards outside, and I would look more closely at the signage, but I'm afraid of making accidental eye-contact.

One night, getting on the subway, two strangers told me I was "different". They weren't even together. Two completely separate people used the same word: "different" in a really accusatory way. I told myself they must have come out of the same community group meeting. Maybe about gentrification. It was unnerving. I feel totally safe- just uncomfortable when I get negative attention.

But it's only for another couple weeks. And it's nothing earphones and a strong walk won't take care of. In general the neighborhood is so vibrant. The smoke BBQs on the street and the kids playing outside make it feel like a huge urban family reunion. I like it.

I wish I could say things were less bizarre inside the apartment. I live with an Eddie Izzard-inspired transvestite make-up artist and polyamorous couple. Which is fine. I don't care. The problem is that there are only three topics of conversation.

One is BDSM culture. My Izzardian roommate spent time as a submissive house-slave in a BDSM Chateau outside Albany, NY (who knew?!) He's proud of it, which is FINE, but he won't stop sharing. The other subject of conversation is LARPing (Live Action Role Playing).

The entire household goes, one weekend each month, to a girl scout camp in rural NJ. There, they join 150 other self-proclaimed nerds from all over the northeast and pretend to be zombie hunters, tunnel people, wizards and purebloods in a massive, elaborate and disturbingly immersive role playing game. There's game money, a game bar, game relationships and lots of game weapons.

People stay in character all weekend long and the backstories they write for themselves are not only distrubing, dark and traumatic, but they become so real that when they talk about LARP, they sound as if they truly believe it all happens. I was so fascinated by all of this that I asked way too many questions ("Wait. So there's a game brothel, but these girls are actually making out with other players for fake money?! THIS HAPPENS?!!") Now they're apparently writing me a backstory so I can go play with them one weekend. Honestly, it would make a great story, but I'm thinking not-on-my-life thanks.

The third topic of conversation is their cats.

So, while this Bed-Stuy chapter is certainly an interesting one, my fingers are crossed that one of the 6 brokers we're meeting with tomorrow can find us a charming (small), 2 bedroom (probably a railroad) with character (problems that make it affordable).

Here's a pessimistic subway wall.

And my roommate with his tribe of tunnel people after hunting a blow-up reindeer.

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